LEISURE centres in Dudley, Stourbridge and Halesowen will reopen next week- but free swimming for youngsters has been suspended.

Dudley, Halesowen and the Crystal in Stourbridge will reopen their gyms and offer fitness classes from Monday, August 3, with pools set to reopen on Thursday, August 6.

Free swimming for children under 16s will not run over the summer holidays, it has been announced.

Council chiefs say the suspension is due to swimming pools operating at reduced capacity to maintain social distancing, but they have pledged to bring back the scheme for the October half term if government restrictions are further eased by then.

Free swimming for all under 16s in the borough was trialled in the summer holidays in 2018 before being rolled out to all school holidays last year.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: "As much as we would love to put free swimming on for children this summer, public health is paramount and we must follow the guidance.

"Swim England has recommended fewer people should be allowed in the pools at any one time to ensure social distancing.

"We will regularly review the situation moving forwards and we very much hope to reinstate the scheme for October half-term if government guidance allows us to."

Customers will need to pre-book sessions and pay online in advance, with lane swimming in operation at the 25m pool at Crystal and at Dudley and Halesowen pools to manage capacity.

The leisure pool will also be closed at Crystal following guidance from Swim England advising against opening the wave machine, rapids and slides.

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member responsible for leisure centres, said: "We’re pleased to be able to announce the re-opening of our leisure centres.

"Ensuring safety is still key. We have fitted safety screens in key areas, ordered additional PPE and planned increased cleaning regimes to ensure people can visit the centres in confidence they will be safe."

The Dell Stadium in Brierley Hill is set to reopen today (July 27).